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Sukla Sen's blog

Countering Hegemony: Random Jottings

Countering Hegemony: Random Jottings

The tension between ‘determinism’ and ‘voluntarism’ is perhaps one of the central tensions of Marxism. On the one hand, (Marxist) historical materialism strives not only to make sense of the seemingly huge anarchy of past events and decipher a specific, and universal, pattern of development lying just beneath the surface and locate the locomotive of development and change in the accumulating stress between the compulsively evolving technology of production and reproduction of means of subsistence, and also production itself, and the relationship of control pertaining to the production system, but also lay down a schema of the future course of development extrapolated from the past patterns. These changes are acknowledged as driven by ‘material’ forces and thereby independent of human desire or choice. Not only that, at a given stage (of development), the subsequent changes are (historically) pre-determined. So nomadic hunters / food gatherers evolve into settled food producers and then graduate to machine-based production. The change in the system of production brings in its wake a whole lot of concomitant changes in the sphere of social/political organisation. And the trajectory of change is not simply linear; it is interspersed with sharp breaks and leaps, which correspond to the sudden bursts of stress having reached a certain critical range.

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